Do you have a knack for working with young people? If you’re considering a role in teaching, you might want to look into the Special Needs Education (SEN) pathway. Positions in this sector are at once challenging and rewarding. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get started and what you can expect.
What Does a Special Needs Education (SEN) Teacher Do?
First things first, let’s talk about what SEN teachers do. Before you embark on a journey toward this career, you need to fully understand the scope of the role. While the job is doubtlessly fulfilling, it requires a level of patience, skill and perseverance to get right. Understanding the requirements of the role ahead of time will help you decide if you have what it takes to succeed in the realms of Special Needs Education (SEN).
As a special needs teacher, you will be working with students who have learning difficulties or display challenging behaviour. You should keep in mind that the young people you teach may have the following:
Within your role, you will be tasked with providing these young people with extra support along the way. During each lesson — and, indeed, outside the classroom — these individuals may need your assistance. You will need to adopt expert teaching methods that help these individuals excel in an educational environment.
What Qualifications Do You Need?
Next, let’s talk about your potential career path. Currently, there are no specific postgraduate degrees pertaining to Special Needs Education (SEN). If you have already undertaken a bachelor’s degree, you should go on to study a Postgraduate Certificate in Education or PGCE. Armed with this qualification, you will be able to apply for an entry-level role which will provide you with your initial teaching training.
After working in a mainstream school for a period, you will have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). It’s worth noting that state-funded SEN and mainstream schools will require you to have this qualification when you begin working within Special Education Needs.
If you have yet to complete an undergraduate degree, it could be worth pursuing a Special Educational Needs and Disability BA. This type of qualification will give you a foundational understanding of the career path you have chosen. However, you will still have to complete a PGCE and a teacher training year in practice before landing an SEN role.
What Extra Skills Do You Need?
While not a requirement, gaining extra skills can help you as a Special Needs Education (SEN) teacher. Since you will be working with young people who have a variety of challenges, you will need to have a varied skill set. With that in mind, you may wish to undertake qualifications in the following:
Aside from teaching the national curriculum and undertaking core teaching tasks, your job will encompass extra responsibilities. Gaining subsequent skills and training will only help you bolster your skills set and enable you to succeed in your chosen role.
What Salary Can You Expect?
Before you get started and train to become an SEN teacher, you might be wondering what type of salary you can expect. Newly qualified teachers can expect a salary of at least £24,373 per annum in England and Wales, according to the Department for Education. If you happen to live in inner London, you can expect a higher entry pay grade of at least £30,480, which is necessary since the cost of living is higher in the capital.
It’s worth noting that your salary will incrementally rise as you gain more special needs teaching experience. As a Leading Practitioner in England and Wales, you could earn as much as £62,735, while in inner London this figure rises to £70,540. Of course, these numbers only apply to state-funded mainstream schools. Should you wish to gain employment in independent schools, the boards have more freedom over pay rates.
What Benefits Can You Expect?
A healthy salary isn’t all you will get when you enter work as an SEN teacher. According to the Department of Education, this career path allows you more holidays annually than other professionals. You will also automatically become a member of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, which means that you can expect a generous pension. As you move in the ranks, you can also expect teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payments, which entitle you to additional income based on the tasks that you undertake.
Needless to say, working in Special Needs Education (SEN) is far from straightforward. The challenges you will meet on a daily basis are likely to be more difficult than the average teacher would expect. For that reason, the government offers special educational needs (SEN) allowance to some teachers who work in this sector. Put simply, that means you may be eligible for a payment of between £2,209 and £4,359 per year.
If you’re considering a fulfilling role in Special Needs Education (SEN), there’s no time like the present. Now that you have an overview of this career pathway, it’s worth doing your own research into the topic. The next steps you take will depend largely on your current experience and education level. Research your options and be sure to make an informed decision on how you enter a training programme that suits your needs.
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